Vancouver Pride Society bans UBC from 2019 Pride Parade
Weeks after the University of British Columbia hosted an anti-SOGI speaker, the Vancouver Pride Society has withdrawn their invitation for the post-secondary institution to participate in the 2019 Pride Parade.
In a statement posted to their website Monday, the Vancouver Pride Society says while UBC students, faculty and employees can still sign up to participate, the university itself would be barred from entering the parade, due to their decision to “provide a platform for transphobic hate speech.”
Jenn Smith, a controversial anti-SOGI speaker, had several planned events cancelled across the Lower Mainland, including at Douglas College in New Westminster and Trinity Western University in Langley; however, her event at UBC went through, despite attempts by different groups and thousands of UBC staff to have it cancelled.
"Jenn Smith is known to deliver hate speech and discriminatory talks," said Andrea Arnot, Vancouver Pride Society Executive Director.
VPS uses a scored questionnaire to determine how an applicant organization’s official policies support the LGBTQAI2S+ community, which includes a category examining any “recent homophobic or transphobic events and the institutional response.” Applicants must have a matrix score of 20 points or higher to participate in the parade according to the statement released today.
"UBCs booking policy and decision to allow and defend a platform for anti-transgender hate speech has dropped their score below the required score of 20 to participate in the Pride Parade,” wrote the society in their statement.
VPS says they met with UBC administration last week to discuss Smith’s June 23rd talk, and plans for the school to move forward.
UBC has released a statement of its own saying. “We are committed to ensuring that marginalized voices are heard in discussions of freedom of expression and that their feedback is shared at both the board and senate levels.”
UBC is planning to send its policy on booking and rental space to be reviewed by the school’s board of governors this Fall.
"In consultation with the diverse LGBTQ2SIA+ communities at UBC, we will create mechanisms to seek-out and elevate the perspectives of our community members," said the school in a statement.
"We encourage UBC to apply for reassessment in 2020 once steps have been taken to address the damage done by their previous policy," wrote VPS. "We are making this decision transparent to hold UBC accountable."
It’s not the first time something like this has happened. Uniformed VPD officers have been barred from the parade since 2017. Organizers say a visible police presence is a trigger point for many in the LGBTQ community.
The Society receives about 140 parade entries a year. It says its priorities for the event remain the same, regardless of which organization it may be working with.
"We need to use that voice to make sure we're leaving no one behind."
The 2019 Pride Parade is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 4, in Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Regan Hasegawa